The Lessons I've Learned So Far
My search for meaningful connection
Almost two months into this journey and I had expected to see bigger changes taking place. I’m quite an impatient woman at the best of times but this project is likely to be a real test for that. When I started on this journey I naively thought things would change overnight for me and that I would find those meaningful connections I’ve been searching for much more quickly than I am.
Instead what I’m seeing is probably more valuable. I am seeing small shifts. Shifts that are moving me in the right direction. Nothing huge. Nothing mind-blowing. Just some small changes in myself.
I’m feeling less frustrated with myself and the outside world. I can’t say for sure that it is down to this project but I’m fairly certain that what I’ve learned so far about self-compassion and ‘showing up’ has played a part.
Obviously any big changes aren’t going to happen overnight. I’m not going to wake up one morning feeling a sudden deep sense of connection. That’s unlikely to happen. Despite my naivety, even I recognise that now. I know that it will take longer than that and, who knows, it may not even happen at all. At least, not in the way I’d hoped.
However whatever happens I know that I will have learned a lot – about myself and about others – and I’m starting to see evidence of that already. Here are some of the things I’ve learned so far:
1. Connection is so important – it’s a basic need for people, so this project isn’t just a ‘nice to do’. If it’s a success I know this project will make a really positive difference to my life.
2. The importance of showing myself compassion – particularly when things don’t turn out in the way I’d hoped, or when I’m going through a particularly tough time. Also important is recognising and celebrating when things do go well. It’s all part of looking after myself and being kind to myself.
3. I should focus on personal connections, ideally on a face-to-face basis – rather than those relationships that are purely online. This may be entirely appropriate at certain times and for some people, but for me I need something deeper and more personal.
4. I will experience many doubts – these are likely to appear at different times throughout this journey, but I know that I can’t let them stop me. I may not be successful in what I’m trying to achieve but at least I will have learned some great lessons along the way.
5. Not everyone is going to like the new me – people are used to me being the way that I am and change may come as a surprise to them. They may not know how to handle it. All I can do is try my best to help them with that and ultimately accept if they cannot.
6. I’m not going to be successful in connecting with everyone – that’s just the way it is and I’m sure most of us will experience that at some point in our lives.
7. Determination will play a big part – I really want to see positive change occurring and my determination will be key in ensuring that I continue with these experiments and give myself the best chance of this happening. This determination comes from an awareness of my current situation and that I don’t want things to continue in the same way. I want to make a fulfilling life for myself, whatever that may look like.
8. I can’t continue to hide away – not if I want to build deep connections. The pain that has been caused by life not turning out in the way that I’d hoped has taken away a lot of my confidence, and caused me to isolate myself in many ways. But this project is encouraging me to push myself out of my comfort zone where it feels right, take up activities that I enjoy and do things that I know will help me move forward.
9. I have to keep an open mind and not hope for specific results – if I do I will only be setting myself up for disappointment, which could lead to me isolating myself even more.
So what else am I up to at the moment?
I am taking Jackee Holder’s ‘Paper Therapy’ course, which I am loving. I have always found writing therapeutic and this course is a perfect way to teach me how I can use writing to help me connect better with myself.
I am hoping to interview Dr Kristin Neff for the Psychologies magazine website after I attended her excellent ‘Self-compassion and Emotional Resilience’ workshop last weekend, organised by ‘The Mindfulness Project’. Watch this space! I am both super excited and super nervous about this.
I am continuing to reconnect with friends and I have organised a get-together at my place for next month, something I’ve only ever done once before!
The week after next, I am meeting with a group of women, most of whom I’ve never met before, but who are all experiencing similar life circumstances to myself. I’ve arranged to meet up with them for an after-work drink and conversation. This is a huge step for me but one that I know will be really helpful.